Thursday, 29 September 2016

They're here!

Saturday 24th September to Monday 26th September 2016

A quiet weekend was planned; a few trips down to the pub to watch some football; final clean-up of the boat; fill with water – before the explosion hit with the return of the girls from their cruise – well the return of one and the arrival of the other.

All started off well and good; went down to The Fountain Abbey to watch the Man United v Leicester game; I got there after the first goal had been scored and the second had just gone into the net, and then there was a mad frenzy with two more in the time it took to order a drink – what was this 4-0 before half-time.

In the end it was a great win and hopefully a sign of matches to come.

The rest of the day was quiet; it is amazing what time away from work can do for you -  I had already started and finished three books in the last week and that was whilst I was still working, so I started a fourth one that afternoon.

Sunday arrived, clear as a bell, fine and sunny, so started with a walk around to get the body working again; a message arrived on the phone via the blog that Marilyn and David were in London and seeing if I was still in Rembrandt Gardens – yes I was – we eventually met up and were cheerfully chatting away – we had not met in person before but have had a lot of contact back and forth for a couple of years now, but it was so lovely to finally meet.
We headed off to lunch at the aforementioned public house – and had a very fine time – took a couple of hours for us to get through it all and really had a great time with both of them.
 
Crazy kids!
Marilyn and David needed to head back to their lodgings in Pimlico and so we bid farewell to one-another and I headed back to the boat; I was tempted to stay and watch the next game at the pub but thought better of it.

Monday was D-day and everything was basically ready for their return which finally occurred late morning – there they were and I was so very pleased to see them both. Even though it was just over a week for Diane, it had been 2 years since I had seen Sam.

It was a great Monday having them both on the boat.


Diane decided that with all of the washing that they had brought back with them, it would be good to get most of it done; I thought that since we needed the engine on anyway, we may as well take the boat for a bit of a run – Sam had not cruised with us before – and we could just head down to the top of Camden Locks and then come back.

As it turned out, the trip was long enough for Diane to get two full loads of washing done – oops, I am starting to sound like other bloggers who talk about the use of the washing machine, but the end point is that as we were cruising, there were some ominous dark clouds seeming to follow us.
As we approached the top of the locks at Camden, a few spots started to fall and then after some centimetre perfect winding, the heavens absolute pelted down – the two girls ducked below decks quicker than I have seen them move before; all that remained out the back was a drowned water-rat with glasses, which is where they left me until I was soaked and the rain had disappeared – but once you are wet you may as well stay there until you moor up.

But at least the washing was done, which made her indoors very pleased indeed.

6 Miles, 2 Tunnels
YTD:  615 Miles (990 km) , 358 Locks, 8 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4410 Miles (7097 km), 3057 Locks, 120 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Friday, 23 September 2016

She's flown off again and I get hit!

Saturday 17th September to Fiday 23rd September 2016

A day that had been “ringed” on the calendar, but not a day that we especially had to be up early for.

The packing had been almost completed and the timetable set – we would be leaving latish in the morning but still plenty of time to relax before heading off – where to, you may ask.

Well it wasn’t a combined trip; Diane would be off on her own to meet up with our daughter, Sam. This time it would be in Barcelona, so now she only had to get there.
 
Ready to go.
I dropped her off at Victoria Station (we took the tube, I didn’t hire a car or anything like that) and after a coffee she caught the Gatwick Express and then a flight to Spain.

Luckily for her, Sam was there to meet her at the other end – Diane had only found out a day or so earlier where they were staying, but that then changed as well – so, mother and daughter let loose for fun and tapas.

All of the following I only have has come arrived in dribs and drabs.

Breakfast the following morning was a hearty one – well a well balanced meal was available, but Diane chose the churros and a couple of strawberries on the side – it was apparently the one to bulk up on before the walk with cases to the ship.
 
By adding a little fruit, it does not become healthy
They were off on a 7 day cruise around the Med – stopping at Naples, Rome, LivornoCannes, Marseilles and then back to Barcelona.
This one will do me - hurry back

The weather was slightly warmer than back in London; there was the mention of an alcohol-included package that had been arranged and apparently they were trying out the Black Russians (the drink, not well-tanned Cossacks).

Naples and Pompeii was quite exhausting; Rome much the same, but I suspect that the latter was due to some running by both to get back to the bus before it left without them; they decided to have a rest day in Livorno and get the spa treatment on board and today they have arrived in Cannes where disembarkation is via the tender – hope the sea is calm for them.

The weather has been wonderful for them – around 23-25C, sunny and no rain – gee, another summer for Diane.

Meanwhile, I have been trying my best to get enthused about the list that has been left – I know for sure that it won’t be finished.

I stayed on in Alperton for a few more days after Diane left – most of the boats that stop around here are now mooring on the new rings (west of Bridge 11A) and closer to the new elsan point, but I preferred the usual spot outside Sainsbury’s – it has been lovely and quiet.

I moved along on Tuesday to Old Oak Common (near Bridge 7B) and apart from the odd sound from the railway lines below, it has been very quiet and, of course, the sun has been out most of the time – along with a bit of rain.
It is easy to see the autumn is with us; the boat is a little colder in the mornings and the condensation is starting – before we know it there will be snow on the roof.

Now this is not the start of a joke but there was a Grenadian, a South African and an Australian talking about boats and being in Britain, and there was general agreement amongst us all about a lot of the same things that we had all seen, heard and experienced whilst we had been here - none of us had been born here, none of us were wealthy, but none of us were collecting any benefits either - we had been supporting ourselves all of the time - we concluded that we must not be true immigrants, but then none of us could recall meeting anyway who was from outside Britain and who was in this country and not employed and working.
And we all agreed that there were some strange practices here, that we wouldn't entertain or tolerate back home.

Had a bit if a nasty incident on Thursday morning - decided to take a walk down to the Sainsburys near Porta Bella bridge - the pathway is nice and wide - good width of concrete pavers have been laid and then a strip alongside - easy wide enough for pedestrians and bikes - and then grassy bits on each side - widest towpath I recall seeing.
It is used by a lot of cyclists - going both ways - many of them at speed as well, but with due care - no problems.
Anyway, I am on my way back to the boat - it is after 9am and the level of cyclists has dropped off a bit - about a hundred metres away I see a cyclist coming down the same side as I am on; a couple of cyclists appear from behind me and are on the concrete paver pathway. This lone cyclist is coming closer and I could tell that it was quite fast, so I stopped and waited for them to pass.
I had been talking to a cyclist just the previous day and commented about the number of bikes and he said that everyone is in a hurry and if you are walking and it gets a bit awkward, then just stand still, it is better than trying to move and the cyclist is not sure where or what you are doing or going.
So I did - closer and closer - until it became evident to me that I was the target, so harking back to me Aussie Rules days, and knowing that the hit is coming, I braced myself.
It was a hard glancing blow - my left arm was a little sore, but the cyclist got the worst of it.
Their was a lot of swearing from the bike and telling me I should have got out of the way - certainly not the way you would expect a young woman to behave - yes, a woman.
She was decidedly lucky to retain control of the bike and not crash - for me, I was fine - I have been hit harder by Diane.
Funny though, all of the guys have been good; in fact the vast majority of cyclists were great - bell ringing, slowing down - but there is always one and she was it!

I saw her again this morning as she passed the boat - I think she may have learned her lesson - going much slower and a bit more polite to other users - she didn't say anything; she may have recognised me.

Today it was a case of moving the boat along again, this time down to Little Venice and onto a mooring at Rembrandt Gardens for a week.
The two girls will be back on Monday, so there should just be enough time to get the boat back into shape and all tidy again.

It was a lovely slow cruise down to the Pond, then around into Paddington Basin, winded and back to the new water point - nice to have another one around, but it is flippin' slow - 350 lt in about 90 minutes.

Anyway, being a lovely sunny day and on the warm side I was happy just to wait for a bit - a lovely young girl (at my age they are all young) came up with her dog and wanted to talk about boats, so who am I to say no - nothing else to do - she had a small Tjalk (35') for a year and wanted to just know a bit more about things in general - nice day for some - well nice day for me then!

7 Miles
YTD:  609 Miles (980 km) , 358 Locks, 6 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4404 Miles (7088 km), 3057 Locks, 118 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Friday, 16 September 2016

Summer not quite gone - well maybe it has!

Friday 9th September to Friday 16th September 2016

First job of the day was to return the hire car back to Enterprise – it is always a concern for me that something will be found wrong with the car, and until it is signed off by them I remain concerned – so, once again relieved that all was OK and after getting a lift back we (I) could relax.

There was the small matter of needed to refill the water tank and remove the ‘orrible waste, but with that all done we, in the end, moved less than a mile to some favourite mooring just north of Bridge 190.
Why is that a favourite spot? Well, it is close to the Paddington Packet Boat Inn, where we are now building a good relationship with the woman behind the bar – Sue ; it is also away from the random foot traffic and only the occasional car over the bridge – and none late at night.

It allowed us to have a lovely Happy Friday at the pub with Dot and Gordon – there was the discovery of some cut-price double spirits drinks and in particular Black Russians – which were consumed in numbers by Dot and Diane – now known as D&D, which almost described their condition later on.


It was a quiet weekend during which a lovely Sunday lunch – at the Paddo’ was consumed – the Uno cards made an appearance before and after, which added to the enjoyment of the afternoon. After we left the pub we took a wander around the Little Britain Lake just down the road.




Monday came along and we made a move into Uxbridge for two reasons – firstly Diane had a dotors appointment in Watford on Tuesday and the connection is good from Uxbridge and secondly, we would need diesel at some stage before our next cruising adventure and we do not miss the opportunity to fill at Denham Marina (still 60ppl and always self-declare).

We found a mooring outside the Swan and Bottle, which we were initially a bit apprehensive about, but it was a lovely quiet night with no noise outside at all – if there was any, then we were too tired to notice.

Early Tuesday, we moved to get the diesel tanks filled, before Diane headed off, after-which I cruised the boat back to virtually where we were before we left.

That evening, after Diane had returned and the heat had gone from the day – I hadn’t mentioned yet, that it seems that summer has returned – it has been particularly hot – with so many people having a hard time with the heat – for me, it was fine as the humidity was below 50% - anyway back to what I was about to say, we got a few nibbles from Tesco and sat down with Dot and Gordon who had drinks in their fridge and just enjoyed an absolutely lovely evening outside; the sunset, following by the rising moon, the coolness of the evening after the heat of the day was really quite wonderful – an absolutely perfect end to the day.


Our schedule now meant that more movement was necessary on Wednesday morning and so we used the services again, farewelled Dot and Gordon and gently cruised away – firstly in the morning cool which was delightful and then the increasing warmth of the sun – cruised as far as the park at Willow Tree, Yeading, where we have enjoyed a couple of days.
Diane even managed to get her prescriptions filled in full at the Tesco – a first for any of the pharmacies we have been to, to have it all.

Thursday afternoon ended with some rather heavy clouds appearing, a little bit of rain and some ominous noises overhead – almost like a Queen song (but without the lightning).
But Friday morning was completely different – thunderbolts and lightning and hard rain – bloody wonderful it was – a pity about the flooding that resulted and the disruption, damage and chaos that it caused.
The rain continued during the morning and we had a little problem – we needed to be moving and be at or around Alperton ready for tomorrow.
Around 9:30 it eased off and we thought that we may as well go for it – luckily the only rain that we did have on our cruising was of the light nature and neither of us got particularly wet – mooring up outside Sainsburys about 11:45am.
We decided to check out the new installation about a quarter mile along – a new elsan point – that we had seen previously – yes!!, we were correct, so a full cassette would be emptied later on.

Somehow or other Diane had engineered it yet again – in Alperton, in time for lunch at the Chinese restaurant that we both like – hands were held up in mock surrender – and so we enjoyed a lovely lunch and then back to the boat for Diane to pack and me to do some work.

The much cooler weather and a few more spots of rain meant that we were pleased to be inside.

Later on we caught the final set of the first rubber in the Davis Cup and watched most of the second.

17 Miles, 2 Locks
YTD:  602 Miles (969 km) , 358 Locks, 6 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4397 Miles (7076 km), 3057 Locks, 118 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Thursday, 15 September 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SARA

Wednesday 14th September 2016

It is worthy news to add to our blog even if it a day after the fact.

Our lovely daughter (-in-law), Sara has celebrated another birthday.

We have to say, she is an amazing woman and such a happy person and we are very proud to have her as a daughter.

Cannot say how old she is now, except that it is the same as our son (and her husband) Mitchell.


We love you Sara and it was great to be able to call and wish you a happy birthday.


Monday, 12 September 2016

A Final Farewell

Wednesday 7th September to Thursday 8th September 2016

I think we all knew that this would not be an easy time for any of us; our dear friend Elaine would have her final farewell and there could be no valid reason that we could find not to be there.

In reading through the tributes that others have made to her memory, we both find ourselves trying to understand how we will never be able to see her again and never be able to hear that giggle that she came out with; to hear her kind words about all things.

As was expected, there were many many people of similar mind to us and who traveled up to Macclesfield to be with Paul, to provide comfort where we could, to say something that might help with his loss – a loss for us all.

Paul’s own words, suitably vetted by Elaine before she passed away, gave us more insight into this lovely woman; even some funny anecdotes, which helped everyone relax.

Readings by her two nieces, Josie and Leyna, meant so much to all in attendance.

The get together afterwards was well attended as well, and lovely to see so many boaters –people who had met and loved both Elaine and Paul, friends from the water.

Elaine is now part of all of us and in no small way, we find ourselves saying almost everyday “What would Elaine think of that?”

We thank our good fortune that we have been so lucky in this life to have known and loved someone as beautiful as Elaine.


Thank you for being who you are, who you were Elaine, and thank you for letting us into your life.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Lesson 1: How to Avoid Rowers.

Wednesday 31st August to Tuesday 6th September 2016

We weren’t exactly early about extracting the pins and heading off on Wednesday morning – about 8:30 was early enough – we would not be going too far today.

Some weeks ago as we were passing through Sunbury Lock, the lockie suggested to us that if we were looking for a good mooring, then around the back of the lock was an area referred to as King’s Park, where spots were almost always available.

So we wanted to test them out.

Past Hampton Court Palace – pretty well chockers there – up through Molesey Lock, used the services and then pushed along and diverted to the right as we approached Sunbury Lock – sure enough, we found some lovely moorings with plenty of space.
At first it seemed a little close to the road, but upon checking it didn’t feel like it would be that busy later on.

It was another day of lovely sunshine – not too hot, not too humid and with a little bit of wind – Goldilocks weather.

A little later the Enforcement Officer came along and Diane had a good chat with him – fluttering the eyelashes at the right times. Seems that many of the locals are keeping a lookout on his behalf and advising when there were boats overstaying – he wasn’t there to see us about that – it was his normal day to come along and he would be back on Friday.
Diane explained that we hadn’t moored there before and the area looked interesting – with a wink and a nod we were right until Friday morning.

I have to say that by the time we did leave, all of the boats that were initially there, had gone and been replaced with some others – a sign that people are doing the right thing – particularly when a friendly face is using their judgement in a good way to enforce the byelaws.

Explore the area we did, but there seemed to be a predominance of pubs and a decided lack of coffee shops – we found just one – inside the walled garden – a lovely place to spend a few hours in mild contemplation.
Huge areas of parkland to wander around – we didn’t do too much wandering around, there was the little matter of a few cows grazing which seemed to put Diane off the idea of a wider area walk.
 
Right - youvé been warned

They really were quite OK, if just a little wary of us

By the time we had left we felt that it was a nice quiet place to stop; very easy to find a pub; peaceful; we may stop there again given the chance.

We made it around to the lock at a few minutes after 9am, thinking that we might just sneak up on the lockie, by not appearing from the main channel, but no, she was there ready and waiting for us – so straight in and up – our thanks to her for such efficiency.

Onward now towards Weybridge / Shepperton and seeing where we could find a mooring.
Our preference was for a place near to Shepperton, but sadly they were all full; even had a boat in the No MOORING area content to flout the rules and ignore the sign – encouraging us to do the same on the basis that the person patrolling wouldn’t be back until Monday – No thanks to you, that is just not on!

Further around we went – the moorings across from the lock – on the Weybridge side were full and there were reservations for the 3rd and 4th anyway, so moved back down through the cutting and then around the end of Desborough Island and onto the EA moorings there – all on our own.
After a walk into Weybridge we came back to find that most of the spots had gone, but no worries for us, we were settled there.
The weather had not been as brilliant as the two previous days, but still very enjoyable indeed.

I think that these are brilliant moorings – very quiet, very peaceful, nice wide waterway, no passing traffic, boats not passing too close.

We had reason to call Teddington Lock to see what the tide times were for a departure back down to Brentford over the next few days. The answer didn’t leave us with too many options and we would need to head back the following morning to Teddington.

It would not need to be a rush trip, but we wanted to not dally about and so we were ready to set off just after 8am – it would have been an easy U-turn from the mooring and then head back down rive, it it wasn’t for a pair of rowers who decided to sit right in the middle of the river and have a chat, despite the clear indication from us that we were wanting to move and would be going right where they were – they were just happy to sit and have a nice girly chat until they were ready to move.
Not really a shared river to them.

Carefully entering the main part of the river and avoiding even more rowers coming downstream at all positions across the river we negotiated still more of them – ahead of us they would suddenly stop right in front; coming up from behind (on both sides) and darting in front as though it was a challenge.
Their handlers (coaches) in their little outboard-powered row boats were not much better.
When will they learn that someday they will have a serious accident with a steel-hulled boat and it will be they that come off worse for wear and we will have a little mark on the blacking.
 
Found these guys all moored up below Molesey Lock as we came through -
Dunkirk boats
Anyway, we cleared Molesey Lock and decided to stop at Kingston for a break and get a few things that we needed – a lovely spot was available on the town side (free moorings) so we grabbed it; secured the boat; got everything done and then set off again, reaching Teddington at not long after noon – where we would stay for the night.
Went down to check with the lockie about the time tomorrow and pay for the mooring and found a large number of the Dunkirk boats in the large lock heading down river for (as the lockie put it – ä G&T before coming back again”).
 
...and here are some of them again - heading down river
A walk into Teddington proper followed and we made it back to the boat just in time to beat the rain which had been threatening – it may have been wet outside, but the humidity vanished and it became a bit cooler but much more pleasant.

We had the alarm set for 4:15am but as usual we beat it by over an hour – the boat was ready by about 4:30 and there was a bit of light in the distance; we had something to eat and a first coffee for the day – not much to do but wait for our 5:15am slot – we would be accompanied by two other boats – neither of whom had made this passage, so we would have to lead – we were the “experienced” crew having done it once previously.
At the allotted time the gates opened and with not much more light in the sky we headed off.
 
When I say it was still dark....

...it was dark - could still find Diane in her new pink life preserver

Apart from the wonky camera work, it was very much like this as
we came out of the lock

At first it took a little bit to orientate ourselves but very quickly it became sucha wonderful time.
 
Perhaps a better view of what it was like
There was sufficient light from our tunnel light and from lights ashore to see where we needed to go, but I do know that having been this way, even once before, made it vastly easier than not.
The other two boats were a little way back but going well; we settled in to enjoy the early morning; the sounds of the wildflife waking; no wildlife ashore on their way home that we could see or hear; and no other craft on the water – especially no damn rowers.
 
But it did get lighter
Richmond was well lit and very lovely in that light, but then again it looks quite good in total daylight; further along and the first planes were coming into Heathrow – one after the other – it was a busy Sunday morning in the skies, but for us, we were a million miles from anywhere.
 
Approaching Richmond




They were still there - not far behind
By now it was a lot lighter in the sky


Finally it had to end and the Brentford statue came into view – we did the turn and arrived at the lock just as the lockie was getting there – he would have a delayed first smoke of the day – we made it a good quarter of an hour before they thought we would – must have been a fast tide – it wouldn’t have been Diane’s river speed!
 
Her they come

Just peaceful river cruising - lovin' it


Back onto the “ditch” again, we shared the first locks with one of the boats, but they stopped after that for breakfast and we carried on up the remainder of the locks with the other boat and a couple of nice guys named Steve and Gavin.
They were great and really switched on about getting through – no rushing around, just good efficient lock work – at the top, we both needed to stop for about the 3rd or 4th clearout of props, from the blanket weed and tree cuttings from further down.

We headed off first, waved our goodbyes and made it to Yiewsley, found a good mooring and stayed there.

Sunday lunch at Paddington Packet Boat, back to our boat, watched England almost miss 3 points, and slept very well – it had been a brilliant day – something very new to us and thoroughly enjoyable.
 
Lovely lunch to finish off a lovely day
The following day, Monday, we were joined by Dot and Gordon and both crews have been here for a couple of days now.


33 Miles, 16 Locks, 2 Tunnels
YTD:  585 Miles (941 km) , 356 Locks, 6 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4380 Miles (7049 km), 3055 Locks, 118 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Monday, 5 September 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMANTHA

Monday 5th September 2016

Our darling daughter has another celebration of her birth going on today and we just want to wish her a very Happy Birthday.



She is a wonderful daughter of whom we are very very proud – of course, we are ever mindful of the fact that she will be part of the selection committee to decide where we will be committed to when we can no longer eat, feed and dress ourselves.




Love you Sam, have a great day.

love 
Mum and Dad 
xxxxxxxxxxxx